Striking ground crew at Toronto Pearson airport to vote on new offer

Click to play video: '700 ground crew workers at Toronto Pearson Airport on Strike'
700 ground crew workers at Toronto Pearson Airport on Strike
Travelers are being warned that flights coming in and out of Toronto Pearson Airport could be affected by the 700 ground crew workers who are currently on strike. Cindy Pom reports – Jul 28, 2017

TORONTO – The union representing striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport said its members will be voting on a new contract offer on Wednesday.

About 700 baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew employed by Swissport at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July.

Swissport services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by Swissport.

The ground crew strike has not significantly affected passengers, although the airport has been warning travellers that the labour disruption could affect some flights.

A spokesman for Teamsters Local 419, the union representing the workers, said Tuesday that a vote approving Swissport’s new offer would end the strike.

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“It’s really going to be up to (employees) to decide whether or not this offer is an improvement on the company’s first final offer – whether they finally feel listened to and respected,” said Christopher Monette.

Swissport said it extended a “memorandum of settlement” to the union on Saturday.

“We are optimistic that the majority of employees will accept the offer and look forward to welcoming them back on the job,” Pierre Payette, Swissport vice-president of operations for Toronto, said in a statement.

The offer came after a week of negotiations between Swissport and the union, Monette said, noting that federal mediators had brought both sides back to the table.

Monette said details of the latest offer won’t be released until union members finish voting at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.

“Really, it’s all in our members hands now,” he said.

Workers have complained of scheduling issues, a wage freeze, and a lack of respect from Swissport for their work. The union said it is also fighting benefits cuts by Swissport.

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The company has said its original offer – which workers overwhelmingly rejected – was competitive in comparison to other ground-handling companies at Pearson.

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